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We have travelled thus far with feelings much like those of Dante :
“ Abi quanto a dir, qual era, è cosa dura,
Questa selva selvaggia ed aspra e forte,
Che nel pensier rinnuova la paura.” And in the midst of this desert are glad to perceive at a distance a greener spot. We allude to the third sect of Polish Jews, called Caraites, or purely Scriplural Jews. Their origin has usually, though not altogether satisfactorily, been referred to the ancient Scribes, who adhered strictly to the Scriptures, disregarding all traditions. The Caraites do the saine, but instead of viewing them as a sect, we are inclined to conclude from the disquisitions of Scaliger, Trigland, Morinus and others, as well as from what we have ourselves seen of them, that they are a remnant of true primitive Jews. This opinion is strengthened by the recent discovery which Mr. Samuel, to whose work we shall hereafter advert, thinks that he has made in Daghistan of the ten lost tribes. The Caraites speak amongst each other Turkish, which would point to their migration from the Crimea, when the latter country was a Turkish province, and where, as Dr. Clarke relates in his interesting account published about fifty years back, they still inhabit a town and portion of land. In Poland they are found in two places only; in the Lithuanian town of Troki and at Luck in Volhynia. Both their pursuits and conduct are honourable: agriculture is their favourite occupation, and although they have been settled in Poland for several centuries, there is no instance on record of a Caraite having ever been tried for a public offence.
The fourth and last is the sect of the Frankists, founded in the last century by Jacob Frank. He was a native of Wallachia, but little or nothing is known of the early circumstances of his life. About the year 1757 he came to Poland with the avowed object of reforming the perverted doctrines of the Talmud, the followers of which accused him of infidelity. Supported by some influential partisans, Frank successfully resisted the Talmudists; but the affair becoming serious, both parties were summoned before the Ecclesiastical Court of Lemberg, and subjected to a singular trial. They were commanded to hold a public disputation on the merits of their respective tenets, and the defeated party was to embrace Christianity. Frank acknowledged himself vanquished, and was accordingly baptized with his followers, the most distinguished persons in the country standing as godfathers. From Lemberg he proceeded to Warsaw, where the number of his disciples considerably increased; but a rumour
VOL, XXVII, NO, LIV,
being spread that he was in the habit of entertaining them in secret with the most fantastic visions, be was again cited before an ecclesiastical tribunal. There he affirmed that our Saviour and the Prophet Elias had appeared to bim, prior to his arrival in Poland, commanding him to convert the Jews, and that he was still reminded in nightly visions of his mission. He added however in conclusion, that should the Church disapprove of his proceedings, he was ready to obey its command as became a dutiful son. He was acquitted of having any bad intention, but lest he should at some future time use his influence for a bad purpose, he was confined in the monastery of Czenstochowa. On being released some time after, he retired into Austria, where Maria Theresa gave him protection, with the intention of making him instrumental in the conversion of the Jews. After a residence of several years at Brünn in Moravia, and then at Vienna, he finally settled at Offenbach near Frankfort. There he lived in regal state, and was waited upon by chamberlains and pages, his disciples. The rich contributions he constantly received from Poland, enabled him to defray the expenses of his court until his death in 1792. He was buried according to the Roman Catholic ritual, and a cross was erected over his tomb. His daughter next presided for some time over the sect; and it is generally believed that the present chief of the Frankists is a distinguished lawyer, a member of the late Polish diet, now living in France as an exile. A great number of them reside at Warsaw, all moving in the respectable circles of society, and are mostly physiciaus or lawyers.
Some assert that the Frankists only outwardly profess themselves Christians, and that in their hearts they adhere strictly to pure Mosaism. It is difficult to decide this question ; but there is no doubt that such a simulation of Christianity by the Jews has many precedents. There are unquestionably swarms of such mysterious personages in Russia, who not unfrequently hold high offices in the state. It is also a historical fact that the same simulation was practised with perfect success in Spain and Portugal. A Jew is said to have even exercised the office of grand inquisitor in Portugal, and only to have revealed, on his deathbed, his real faith. According to the testimony of the celebrated Orobio, a Spanish Jew, who says that he himself feigned Christianity, inonks of various descriptions, and even Jesuits, used to come from Spain, and expiate their simulation before the grand synagogue of Amsterdam. With such facts as these before their eyes, those who think that the Frankists are only half Christians have some reason on their side.
The real tenets of Frank have never been accurately ascertained. He is said to have maintained that both Elias and our
Saviour were still in this world, and that they continued to appoint twelve Apostles for the propagation of Christianity. Though he did not himself claim to be considered as Messiah, he yet never objected to being called so by others. It is also asserted that he believed that he had received a commission to unite all religious persuasions. Until more satisfactory proofs be adduced to the contrary, we may however call the Frankists Judeo-Christians. They have incurred much obloquy for the exclusive spirit that prevails amongst them; which, politically speaking, is l'esprit du corps, but which cannot certainly be allowed to be very Christian. Should this reproach be made against them by a Pole, it might be accounted for on the ground that they were only half Poles, though not half Christians ; many of them, however, warmly espoused the cause of Poland's independence on the late occasion.
A most valuable addition to our information respecting the Jews under the Russian dominion at the present day has been lately furnished by the Rev. J. Samuel. His work, to which we have already alluded, is a well written volume on a very interesting question, which, though it has been often asked, has not yet been answered, namely, what has become of the Ten Tribes of Israel? Our author flatters himself that he has discovered the remnant of them—all that we are led by prophecy to expect-in Daghistan, a wild, mountainous country, situated to the south-west of the Caspian, bordering on ancient Media, and now nominally subject to Russia. Mr. Samuel is not a inere theory-monger, but is fully qualified to investigate his subject, being himself a converted Hebrew of the tribe of Aaron, and well acquainted with the rites and customs of his nation. To these advantages he adds a knowledge of the New Testament, and a deep religious sentiment and zeal, which supported him throughout his laborious journey. Having been sent as missionary to the Asiatic Jews, he visited India, Persia and other adjacent countries, and whilst exerting himself to bring them over to Christianity, he had ample opportunities of observing them as an antiquarian and a Jew. We will sum up his arguments in favour of his opinion, as far as our limits will allow. The Jewish power began to decline upon the death of Solomon, when the Ten Tribes revolted from his son Rehoboam and formed a separate kingdom. After a protracted period of civil and foreign wars, this kingdom was destroyed, and the people were carried into captivity by three several deportations.
“ First, Of the two and a balf tribes on the other side of the Jordan, by Pul and Tilgatb-pilneser.
“ Second, of the bulk of the seven and a half tribes, by Shalmaneser. “ Third, Of the remains of the latter by Esarhaddon, who swept the
land of even the poor lingerers on the mountains of Israel ; so that Israel could not by any nieans become a people, but remained broken as a nation and broken as a people too."
A similar fate some generations afterwards befel the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, but they were permitted by Cyrus to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple; whilst the ten tribes never returned. What then became of them? Mr. Samuel thinks he has discovered their descendants in Daghistan, and all the facts and reasons adduced by him seem to establish this point. On the shores of the Caspian a number of Jews are found; some in a state of slavery and ignorance ; others free, but hardly more civilized; whilst those dwelling in Daghistan appear to be genuine Jews, ruling themselves according to the pure Mosaic law, unpolluted by Talmudic traditions, and to certain patriarchal customs. His inference that the latter are a part of those Israelites who were led captive into : Media seems a very probable one. In the' remote fastnesses of the Caucasian range they might easily have preserved their nationality, clinging to it with a tenacity peculiar to this stubborn people and to mountaineers in general. Our author thinks that their identity as primitive Jews might have been better established than it now is, had Daghistan been visited before it was invaded by Nadir Shah in the last century, when many of them were compelled to embrace Mohammedanism. . :. The proofs which he has collected are numerous and minute, touching upon slight differences in the rites and practices of the Hebrews, and consequently less manifest to a Christian tban to a Jew. Three main points however may be noticed as deserving of particular attention. These Jews alone sacrifice the paschal lamb, the others substituting for it other meat roasted in a peculiar manner; they practise the ancient mode of circumcision, whilst others resort to that which was introduced aller the time of the Maccabees; and finally, they observe the letter of the law concerning the Sabbath day, not even kindling fire nor a light.
“They remain," says Mr. Samuel, “ in the coldest and darkest weather witbout these ; and bave no recourse, as other Jews, to the services of Gentiles to supply them with these, preserving in tbeir own persons the letter, and destroying, through strangers, the spirit of the law. It is remarkable that as they are quite ignorant of the oral Jaw and traditions followed by tbe Jews elsewhere, and which enumerates thirty-nine, different species of occupations from which they consider tben selves prohibited, the Jews of Daghistan observe all these probibitions except the last. This last is called 12'707 or 277'y, which is a reservation of a permission to carry loads from one house to anotber on the Sabbath day. It is allowed by the following ceremony practised by the Jews being observed. A cake, wbich is called 217'y, is consecrated and suspended in the synagogue. A string or rope is extended from
each corner of a street where Jews live ; and this is deemed to constitute those embraced within the extremities of the 21799, one family; thereby evading the penalty resulting from the probibitory injunction.'
“If we refer to the prophet Jeremiah (xvii. 21–27), we find this is in direct opposition to the word of Jehovah:- Thus saith the Lord, Take beed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem ; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do ye any work, but ballow ye the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.' Thus, in this important respect, the Jews of Daghistan preserve the institution according to its appointment before the propbet in question was commanded to reprove the Jewish people for infringing thus its sanctification, which was after the captivity of the lost tribes.
“ They further differ from the Talmudists in the following observances. The Jews throughout the world abstain from those duties which pecessity and mercy justify, such as feeding cattle, milking, &c. i. !
" The day is to them a day of rest and peace, and cheerfulness; they dance, sing and play on instruments. These are of a religious nature, expressive of religious emotions, but are expressly forbidden by the oral law or Talmud. They spend the forenoon of the Sabbath in the way described in the following Scriptures, wbich serve to illustrate their religious babits on that day better than any description of mine. See Exodus : also Samuel, vi. 15; Psalm lxviii. 25, 26; cxlix. 3; cl. 4.
“ The afternoon is spent in a very profitable way, quite unlike the Jews elsewhere. They resort to the dwellings of their elders and of religious men, who sit in their places of abode to receive the visits of those who come to them, and instruct them in the doctrines of their Scriptures, and make allegories of the law of Moses. This custom of resorting to boly men on the Sabbath day is a very ancient one; as njay be gathered from 2 Kings, iv, 23 ; practices long before the great captivities. They surround these good men until sunset, wbo pronounce the Sabbath to be ended; the women kiss the hem of their garments and the men the hands of the elders.”
Mr. Samuel's account of the Scriptures in the possession of the Jews of Daghistan, will probably be interesting to some at least of our readers :
“ They are in possession of a few manuscript copies of the law of Moses, which are divided into five books like ours, wbich they call the book of the covenant, noga 700 according to Exodus, xxiv, 7. They are written in the original Hebrew character, without any division of chapters, sentences or points; which manuscripts they bold to be very ancient, and would not part with them on any account. No nian under thirty years of age is permitted to read them; and I have been told, by the individual whom I sent expressly for the purpose of examining them, that their copies do not differ from the Hebrew copies in our possession, except in two places, namely, in the book of Deuteronomy, cb. xxxiii. where the last blessing of Moses places Judah after Reaben iu our copies, and Simeon is omitted altogether, whilst in their copies Simeon